A Nice Evening In – a short short story

November 27, 2022 § 7 Comments

Mam had orange mermaid hair from the chemists, and Pa said she was a bit of a spitfire. The rest of her she said, was secret. She morphed into a wild creature when Pa went off to his job at the shoe factory, flinging her pink mules across the kitchen floor and dancing like one of those women on Top Of The Pops Pa called harlots, and if he ever caught her dressed up like that he’d kick her out. Dancing was her happy place, the only thing that made her smile – and it made my heart shiver. She smeared lipstick the colour of not-quite-cooked-roast-beef on her mouth and danced the flamenco with one of Gran’s Baccara roses wedged between her teeth. Mam collected assorted tablets in a Peek Frean’s biscuit tin on top of the dresser next to the half empty bottle of Courvoisier for life’s little emergencies. Some pills knocked her out and some made her happy when she wasn’t. This was often, and she blamed it on the long line of Baptist preachers on Grandpa’s side.

The full moon was when the devil got into her and the reason Pa was sitting in the snug of The Hunter’s Moon nursing his third pint of draught Guinness. I waited by the kitchen door pretending not to notice the dinner plate heading for the kitchen floor. Those plates were her favourite for smashing as they made the best crash on the quarry tiles. They also left razor sharp splinters in the soles of my feet as a reminder of something I was trying to forget. There was a lot of blood. After the sight of it she’d pass out and it came: the red halo quivering above her head and landing peacefully atop the orange hair. Soon the screeching started, burning into my skin as if I’d got too close to the fire. This was the sign. Climbing on Pa’s chair I reached for the bottle. Two fingers in the glass should do it. I measured out the brandy and held her nose. She spluttered and burping loudly swallowed the lot in one go. I banked the fire, swept up the plates, brushed the mermaid hair neatly around her shoulders and laid the breakfast table. Soon she would be snoring and all would be well.


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